Closing B.L. England

won't end tax payments

Regarding Sen. Jeff Van Drew's March 11 column, "Pinelands Commission must revisit pipeline vote":

Van Drew states that losing the B.L. England plant would result in property tax increases because Upper Township would lose the energy receipts taxes that it receives.

The Energy Receipts Property Tax Relief Fund is funded by fees paid by utilities for sewerage, water and power lines and other installations. Governors and the Legislature have kept some of the funds to make up budgetary shortfalls.

According to the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs, all municipalities get energy tax dollars and the amount will not change for Upper Township no matter what happens to the plant. It is the zoning of the site that determines what the township receives. The town currently receives $6.2 million in energy receipt taxes. This will not change.

If the B.L. England plant shuts down, the site can be repurposed for wind energy or other industrial development. It could be converted to open space, which would cost the municipality little to nothing and lessen the burden for services.

THERESA LETTMAN

Director of Monitoring Programs

Pinelands Preservation Alliance

Southampton

Cape May County

must regulate cabs

We need to enact long-delayed reform on regulation of the Cape May County taxicab industry. Failure to do this gives the area a black eye.

Coast Guard Training Center Cape May and the county Board of Freeholders now have an agreement whereby the county's Fare Free Transportation program transports Coast Guard personnel on liberty day. This used to be handled by local taxi companies.

Fare Free was brought in due to claims of abuse by taxi operators, including exorbitant charges, dirty cabs, alleged drug use and sexual harassment of female recruits.

I have been working to make government bodies aware of such problems since 2009. I contacted Sen. Jeff Van Drew in 2010. He wrote a bill that would have allowed the creation of a county-regulated system.

But the problem has festered. I have been out of the taxi business for three years, but I feel we need to address these issues. Self-policing by the industry is not an option.

BARRY FELICE

North Cape May

Treatment of homeless

in A.C. is a disgrace

I accuse the Atlantic City administration, Atlantic County and the city Police Department of debilitating, inhumane treatment of our destitute homeless. The Atlantic City Rescue Mission is an underfunded, dangerous, heartless herding pen.

Patrons are forced to leave at 5:30 a.m. to wander the streets until 5 p.m. To escape bad weather, they seek shelter at the bus and train stations. When they are caught napping or slumping, they are issued a $35 ticket. Since most can't afford the fine, they're sentenced to 30 days in jail. Police use marijuana-sniffing dogs, which mean more arrests of nonviolent people who's records render them unemployable and ineligible for public housing.

The push to relocate Sister Jean's lunch kitchen to placate the socially indifferent casinos will add to the suffering of the hungry, many of whom can't walk or afford the bus fare to a distant location.

Casinos in Pennsylvania pay 55 percent on gross revenue and the operators are fighting to build more. Raise the casino tax in Atlantic City and fund a first-class facility that serves our less fortunate, many of whom were casino employees.

A fraction of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority's millions must be directed toward improving the conditions in our most impoverished neighborhoods.

RICHARD T. HALFPENNY

Atlantic City

Beach smoking ban

would be ridiculous

Regarding the March 21 story, "Assembly votes to ban beach smoking":

Another ridiculous law. How about banning alcoholic beverages from the beach? People carry coolers full of beer, drink all day, and then drive home. More people are killed by drunken drivers than smokers.

Worried about cleaning up butts? How about the debris from food wrappers, bottles and cans? People carrying food and drinks to the beach look like they are going on a safari. The cost of cleaning up their mess is why we have beach badges.

My solution: Close all beaches to the public. No badges and no cleaning up. Ah, at last, a pristine beach.

FERDINANDO GASPARINI

Brigantine

Stop defending

deadly cigarettes

Regarding the March 5 letter, "Smoking's offensive? So are a lot of things":

Perfume and cologne can't be compared to deadly cancer-causing cigarettes.

When you get in your car and light up a cigarette, do you keep your car windows up or down? I think down or cracked - even if it's 10 degrees.

We all have the same lungs. I know it's not easy. Put that cancer stick out.

JUANITA HOOPER

Atlantic City